A mother has shared horrifying photos of her scalp to warn others about the dangers of sunbeds and sun exposure.
Mary Bentley had been using tanning beds since she was a teenager and said she would also spend a lot of time in the sun.
Although she stopped chasing a tan several years ago, the 34-year-old said the damage was already done.
During a skin check last month, her dermatologist noticed the flat mark in the center of her scalp.
A biopsy revealed that Mary had melanoma, and surgeons were forced to cut through her scalp while she was still awake.
The stay-at-home mom was left with a gaping hole that revealed her skull.
Stay-at-home mom Mary said she wouldn’t have even noticed the mark if her dermatologist hadn’t checked her scalp.
Mary, who lives in Dallas, Texas, USA, said she had been paying attention to her moles to see if they had changed, but not to her scalp.
“She did a biopsy and about a week later the results came back that it was melanoma.
“They put him to sleep and cut him, that was disgusting because while they are working on your scalp while you are awake you can hear the scissors cutting and cutting your scalp.
“The first big piece is cut off and one of the medical assistants says, ‘Wow, I’ve never seen a skull like that.’ I said, ‘I don’t want to hear how you can see my skull.’
“They put a pressure dressing on it and I had to wait four hours while they tested the skin layers to see if they had everything,” she said.
But Mary had to go back a second time so they could cut more.
After that they called her back and said they had managed to remove everything.
“At least it was a coin size and then the actual cut was much larger to make sure they got everything,” he added.
The melanoma was 4.2cm by 2.6cm, bigger than a two pound coin.
bronze skin is not worth it, baking in the sun and tanning beds is not worth it because it could be lethal
On July 21, she underwent surgery at UT Southwestern Medical Center, where doctors removed an even larger area measuring 4.5 cm x 3.1 cm.
It took doctors two rounds of scalping before they removed the cancer.
She then had to spend two hours in surgery while a plastic surgeon closed the large hole in the top of her head with 13 staples.
The mother-of-three said she had her first cancer scare when she was just 19, when a biopsy found a precancerous mole.
After that, she made sure to take better care of her skin, but said the damage was done.
From there, she had more than 25 mole biopsies, five of which were precancerous, as well as the most recent and severe melanoma on her scalp.
‘I’VE GOT IT’
Mary said, “I grew up here in Texas in the pool and the lake because it’s so hot here. Everyone knows about skin cancer, but you don’t think it’s going to happen to you.
“When I got into high school I used a tanning bed, that’s what all the girls did – everyone was always tanned and brown and now I’m paying for it.
“I’ve always had a lot of moles and when I was 19 my husband said, ‘you might want to go and get them checked’, so I went to the dermatologist.
“They did some biopsies and one of them came back that it wasn’t skin cancer but a pre-cancerous spot, so they had to do a bigger biopsy.
“It all started there and I started to be more cautious but the damage was already done.
“I stayed on top and went to the dermatologist every three to six months and I have several scars [from removals].
“It was never melanoma, it was basal cell and a severe dysplastic nevus, so it’s not cancer, but it could turn into cancer, so they’re just going to do a bigger biopsy.”
What are the signs of melanoma you need to know?
The most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole.
Most experts recommend using the simple “ABCDE” rule to look for symptoms of melanoma skin cancer, which can appear anywhere on the body.
- Asymmetric: Melanomas usually have two very different halves and are irregularly shaped
- Border: Melanomas usually have a jagged or jagged border
- Colors: Melanomas are usually a mixture of two or more colors
- Diameter: Most melanomas are usually larger than 6 mm in diameter
- Enlargement or elevation: A mole that changes size over time is more likely to be melanoma
In women, the most common specific location for melanoma skin cancers in the UK is the legs.
Men are more likely to see melanomas on the trunk: the back or torso.
Mary has now had her staples removed and says her hair has already started to grow back.
However, you have been warned that you may develop alopecia and hair loss around the scar.
But for now, Mary is healing well and feels like she had a lucky escape.
Mary added: “With my own children I’ve always driven them crazy because I lather them up with sunscreen and put them in long sleeves, but now that’s happened, they’re more aware and realize how important it is.
“It’s not a joke, it’s serious and it’s not fun to go through. I’m lucky I don’t have to go through treatment because it hasn’t spread.
“Beautiful bronze skin is not worth it, baking in the sun and tanning beds is not worth it because it could be lethal.
“You don’t think about it when you’re tanning, but it could cost you your life. I just hope people learn to take care of their skin.
“Nowadays they have all these fake tanners if you want to be bronzed at the weekend – you just go and buy one, it’s a lot safer.”
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